More on OH Dairy Farms

Regarding the link I shared yesterday to a post from a dairy farmer which was itself a response to the horrible abuse footage at Conklin dairy farm, a reader writes:

*eye roll* to the “defense of dairy” blog entry, but hey to each their own…I notice you didn’t include the reason for that blog entry.

I did not include a link to the OH dairy farm abuse footage but I’m not sure what the inference is here.  Did I not include it because I believe it’s staged footage or because I think abusing cows is swell?  No, on both counts.  Did I not include it because I think the timing is suspect and the release of the footage is being used by HSUS to further their quest for new farming laws in OH?  No, although I am doubtful that the timing is merely coincidental.  The reasons I did not include a reference to the abuse video are rather pedestrian:

1.  I knew the blog post I was linking to mentioned the abuse footage so in that sense, I felt it was covered.

2.  I purposefully try to avoid seeing animal abuse images because I find them too disturbing.  I see many in the course of surfing the net but as of the time I posted that link, I had not seen the Conklin dairy farm footage and was hoping to avoid doing so.  (I’ve since seen snippets from it on television, unfortunately.)  Since I had already written a post yesterday with links to graphic abuse images, I really wasn’t that keen on including another.

3.  I count my readers as fully capable of using Google to find the footage for themselves, if they felt inclined to do so after reading about it in the link I posted.

More from the reader’s comment:

As I keep wanting to know – how many undercover investigations, how many videos does it take for people to stop thinking these are “bad apples”? There are hundreds currently. Does it take thousands? Tens of thousands?

There is no set number I could think of that would personally sway me into believing that animal abuse is the norm in farming.  Maybe I am naive or just out of touch with reality but I do believe that most people on this earth are inherently good, or at least not sadists.  I believe, perhaps wrongly, that if I were to watch footage of every farm in America 24/7 for a year, that it would be mainly animals being taken care of in a humane manner with some small amount of the footage showing cruelty.

Similarly, while I do often post on stories of cruelty to pets, I believe that those are aberrations and that the overwhelming majority of owners treat their pets humanely.  In theory, I could collect hundreds of stories of pet abuse, and pose the same question asked above – How many will it take to convince people that these are not bad apples but rather the norm?  But I don’t believe that’s true.

And finally:

We don’t need the breast milk of another species to survive. We never have. Why take part in maternal deprivation, slaughter, veal, artificial selection for unhealthy animals when you don’t have to?

I don’t need cow’s milk to survive – true enough.  Nor do I need a car or a computer or air conditioning to survive.  But I have those things because they are available and I enjoy them.  I strive to be a mindful consumer but perhaps I’m just fooling myself so that I don’t have to face my own awfulness.  I hope not.  My dream (we’re talking lottery dream here) would be to have my own farm where I could have cows and chickens to keep as pets and to provide me with food.  I would love that.  But the reality is that if I want dairy products and eggs – and I do – I must buy them.  I support the choice to be vegan for those who desire it but I don’t choose it for myself.

I did want to mention that I first learned about the Conklin dairy farm abuse footage yesterday on Twitter – from the farmers I follow.  I saw a number of tweets from farmers condemning farm animal abuse and referring to the video.  Now I’m not so naive as to fail to recognize that the agricultural community likely feels a business obligation to issue these type of statements.  But again, because I do believe most people are not sadists, I have no reason to doubt those farmers who say this abuse makes them sick and they would never treat their animals this way.  That’s exactly how I feel when I read about pet abuse cases and I would hate for anyone to judge me and how I take care of my pets by the actions of sadists who set their pets on fire or what have you.  Those stories make the news because they are not standard fare.

I hope I’ve explained my thinking and answered the questions posed.  I always appreciate reader comments.  Civil debate is one way that I learn and expand my views and for that I am grateful.

34 thoughts on “More on OH Dairy Farms

  1. I found the Conklin story yesterday on the Fugly Horse of the Day Blog. The footage was disturbing to say the least. My husband was raised on a dairy farm, and while handling cows takes some pushing and shoving, the outright cruelty of the Conklin farmers is sickening.

    I’m not a PETA extremist, but I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses. I, too, want to think that most farmers don’t treat their livestock this way.

    In reading comments on this issue on various blogs, including the “HSUS Watch” site, whose members/readers comment with the same venom you see from anti-Obama, anti-immigrant, anti-whatever folks, I feel our culture advocates justification and name-calling as opposed to actually doing something about these issues (whether it is health care, immigration, or animal cruelty). As a culture, facts are fuzzied, opinions are palmed off as hard truths, and the art of denial has been elevated to a national character defect.

    Thanks for bringing up the issue in your blog without verging into hysterics or hateful finger-pointing. Cruelty, comsumption, stewardship, and compassion are topics that make us uncomfortable. But that doesn’t relieve us from responsibilities.

  2. Regardless of what the videos show there are numerous investigations of animal cruelty on farms at any given time. No the majority of our milk does not come from small dairy farms and even if it did that does not exclude the possibility of those animals being treated cruelly. To produce milk for human consumption cows need to be artificially impregnated again and again, with their calves ripped from them from the moment they are born. I don’t know what you consider animal cruelty…but even if none of the evidence of physical cruelty existed, this practice is cruel in and of itself.
    It disgusts me that people say ‘I will never believe anything an animal rights group ever puts forward’. They are the only ones who care. They are the only ones who are going to spur an investigation at all. So you are essentially saying you will never believe there is cruelty in the agriculture industry because you don’t want to believe it. That is what this comes down to, people don’t want to change their life style. They don’t want to believe that what they consume comes at a great cost of suffering to another. They want to tell themselves sunshine and rainbow stories so they go on doing whatever they want ‘because they want to’.
    As far as quoting a farmer as a reliable source of the dairy industry, how large is that woman’s farm? Would it be considered industrial farming? Because industrial farming is what produces the majority of all products we consume. Everyone points to that pretty little farm with the person who says ‘oh our animals always have the best treatment, and there are standards’. That is not the reality of where your milk or meat is coming from. These standards people brag about are atrocious. Bare minimum, and anytime the idea to raise the standards is suggested farmers call foul on ‘animal activists’. News flash the activists aren’t who is paying you shit for your products. The activists aren’t giving you a cap on how much milk you can sell and then have to dump the rest out. The activists aren’t the ones paying you next to nothing for your livestock. It is the very industry you work in, the big boys on top that ultimately control how and what you produce that are causing your downfall.
    I’m going to tell a personal story I’m sure people won’t take with much thought because only personal stories that already support their point of view are worth accepting right?
    I grew up surrounded by farmers of everything and anything. I have yet to meet a farmer that values their animals as anything more than a commodity. Regular hurtful actions are performed on animals and are legal, castrating, de-fanging, de-beaking, tying of tails, removal of teeth etc. etc. all without anesthesia. I have yet to speak with a farmer that states they believe their animals’ can feel pain and can suffer. The response is always ‘oh they don’t feel a thing’. They are screaming, pulling, trying to run away…but they don’t feel a thing.
    So guess what, whether people are ready to admit it to themselves or not, farmers who truly value and respect the livestock they care for are few and far between! The industry and government regulations don’t view farm animals as anything more than a commodity and neither do most farmers. If I don’t believe this animal can feel pain, will I commit to any measure that ‘some animal activist’ tells me will ease it’s suffering? Cows, pigs, chickens, goats, horses, the list goes on, all feel pain like your precious pets do. Most are aghast seeing dogs and cats stuffed into battery cages ready to be slaughtered, but not ‘farm animals’.
    Animal activists are not the only ones that cry foul on industrial farming. It is widely argued by scientists that industrial farming is one of the biggest threats to our environment and our own health.
    So although you may not like to believe what the videos show you, then read some books, scholarly journals, scientific studies, what do they all tell you? Or will you still rely on that pretty picture hobby farm enthusiast as your reliable source of cruelty in the industry being ‘just bad apples’?
    I will clarify again, that I do not believe farmers are monsters. They are simply people trying to get by doing what they have always been taught to do. I don’t blame them for what they do, but I wish more people were open to knowledge, truth, and change. Oppose to plugging their ears and closing their eyes.

    PS. Yes this is an angry rant, I don’t mean to be directed as an attack towards anyone more of a rebuttal to the view cruelty is not rampant in the agriculture industry.

  3. I realize the hypocrisy of saying personal stories are not factual or necessarily reliable and then telling my own. But as long as we are examining personal accounts of small dairy farmers I think we should acknowledge personal accounts that contradict them.

  4. The problem is that farming on a large scale involves practices that are designed to maximize profit at the cost of animal welfare. There is no avoiding this and ignoring it IS naive. The waste product of the dairy industry is male calves. If you support the dairy industry, you support the veal industry. The defense of dairy link earlier frames the removal of the calf as something done for the benefit of the cow- this is outright untrue. The calf must be removed to maximize milk production. Any benefits or cost to the cow or calf are both secondary. The idea of the cow being feed a perfect diet is also untrue…they are feed what will keep them in milk at the cheapest cost possible. And yes, there are natural hormones in milk, but cows are injected with additional hormones that are not naturally occurring in order to keep them in milk for the longest time possible.

    There simply is no escaping that any large scale dairy farm is dependent on female cows kept in milk for wholly unnatural lengths of time and the sale of unwanted male calves. In this case the cruelty is inherent to the industry itself- even the best large dairy is separating newborn calves, feeding the cows waste products, and injecting the cows with hormones.

    You compare drinking dairy to driving and such…a closer analogy would be wearing fur coat. Both involve unavoidable cruelty and are completely unnecessary. The only difference is that drinking milk is still socially acceptable.

  5. The reader appears!

    I see it from another angle. I’ve worked at a farmed animal sanctuary for six years. I’ve met thousands of animals from a variety of farms. Big, small. You name it, I’ve seen it. I’ve been in slaughterhouses, battery cage operations, cage free facilities, dairy farms, cow-calf operations, turkey breeding facilities. To think we can produce 10 billion land animals for slaughter and think that cruelty is the aberration is indeed naive. Let’s say 10-20% of these animals are cruelly treated – they aren’t stunned properly on the kill floor, they are left to suffer from prolpases, caught wings, damaged body parts…we’re not talking a few hundred animals.

    In the broiler industry, it is expected that 30-40% of the birds will suffer broken wings/legs on their way to the slaughterhouse – do the math, 30-40% of nine billion is a lot. It is legal to NOT stun birds insensible to pain before their throats are cut. In California, it is legal to throw “spent hens” into wood chippers. It is legal to freeze adult hens to death and burn them to death. Legal, as in supported by the state veterinarian and not prosecutable.

    In the turkey industry, all white breasted turkeys are artificially inseminated. This involves rough handling of frightened birds, no matter how you look at it. Worse, their entire existence is cruel. If a human baby grew at the same rate as a modern turkey, he’d be gaining 50-60 lbs a day. How can anyone argue that creating a breed of animal that cannot walk normally, mate naturally, fly like their wild cousins can, or live normally past the age of 2-5 is anything but cruel?

    In the egg industry, it is expected that around 15-30% will suffer broken bones during transport. It is expected that 5-10% will die before slaughter. Do the math – 5-30% of 250-300 million. More than 98% of egg hens are de-beaked – most of the studies out there support the idea that de-beaking is painful and causes lifelong reduced welfare. It’s certainly obvious in the de-beaked hens we’ve rescued.

    It is expected that nearly 50% of dairy cows will suffer from mastitis (which is rarely treated). It is expected 20% will suffer from lameness. Do the math – 20-50% of nine million.

    These aren’t small numbers. And unless I’m wrong, I don’t think you believe broken bones, and lame cows are humane ways to treat animals. Cruel treatment of animals in animal agribusiness is the norm – it has to be. Factory farming cannot function any other way, not when you are mass producing living being for a cheap end product – meat, dairy, eggs.

    We eat meat, drink milk and eat eggs because it is a cultural and societal habit. It is tradition. We like it. It is woven into our life story. Even though there is ample evidence that a diet that significantly reduces or eliminates animal products is healthier than one that doesn’t. It’s hard to overcome habit, tradition and emotions. I get that. It’s not like I popped out of the womb vegan. I grew up eating meat, dairy, eggs.

    I stopped when I saw before me the suffering MY behavior caused. When I saw a calf taken from his mom, when I saw how she screamed and charged and cried for the life she grew for 9 months. When I saw the calf struggle and cry out for his mom. And there I was, in the middle, having just pulled that baby out of her body. There was my glass of milk. And it shook me to the core. This wasn’t a big farm. This was the small dairy farm at UC Davis. I never saw people beat cows, but we took their babies, we milked them until they could not be milked more, and we denied them so much. And we didn’t have to. That’s what kills me.

    I just think there is enough evidence out there that suggests animal agribusiness cares about one thing – money, profit. This is a business, not a happy farm where animals frolic and play. That is not profitable. I don’t want to be a part of that. The beauty of it is that, in this country, I don’t have to.

    1. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but I think there’s a problem with equating a) cruelty that’s considered “business as usual” (like beak clipping), b) accidents (like injury during transport), and c) deliberate, sadistic abuse (like in the video).

      I happen to agree that sadistic abuse is rare and generally not tolerated (which is what I assumed Yesbiscuit was referring to). I’m not sure I buy the argument that factory farming especially promotes this type behavior.

      The “business as usual” cruelty is a much bigger problem in my opinion, but I think that’s a slightly different discussion. My way of battling that is to buy my animal products from local, small farmers or hunt or fish for it.

      1. Suzy – the link I posted today from a cattle Vet does address the “we are listening and improving” aspect of farm animal treatment. It’s worth a read.

  6. I think Milgram proved your “people are not sadists” theory wrong in the 1970s. Once he proved that 60+% of his subjects would electrocute a fellow human just because someone told them to, I think the argument that, causing deliberate suffering for no good reason is an aberration flew out the window. This experiment has been repeated over and over with pretty much the same results, by the way. To be fair, it isn’t exactly sadism for most people, just a general disconcern with suffering and a desire to please authority figures.

    Personally, I think you should listen to the woman with the most experience with dairy farms, farmed animals, and what happens to them on dairy farms. And that would be your commenter, not you.

    1. Where did you get the incorrect impression that I thought I had the “most experience” on dairy farms? I never intended to give that impression. In fact I’ve always been up front on this blog in stating that I have no farming experience.
      I don’t see the push-the-button-to-shock-someone experiment as being equivalent to stab-the-cow-for-fun (or because I can, or whatever the “reason”) abuse. Mainly, people act very differently when instructed to do something by an authority figure vs. how they may act at their dairy farm job.

      1. You’re clearly wrong. “Inherently good people” would NOT push the button, nor would “inherently good people” stab the cow. In the dairy industry, the “authority figure” is merely a complex of the profit motive and a paradigm that relegates the cow to the status of “thing” or property. This is an excellent example of ontology or more accurately the way you WANT to view human beings standing in for the empirical evidence attesting to the way human beings ACTUALLY are. In your case, example after example of “bad apples” will, therefore, fall into the category of deviant cases by definition because you WANT to view human beings that way from the outset. In other words, there is no arguing with people like you, the “faithful”, people who accept things despite the evidence.

        p.s. Your analogy between buying a computer and drinking milk does not follow logically because the relevance of not needing milk to survive is that causing the harm and death necessary for you to have that milk becomes a CHOICE. The same is not true when you use a computer. And like any choice, once you begin to cause harm and death your freedom to choose ends.

      2. Like… choosing a computer whose components were manufactured in China by child labor in unsafe conditions and transported on boats that pollute the ocean and run on fuel whose extraction from the earth causes pollution and loss of wildlife habitat?

        I think the analogy is fairly sound. Except that it’s much easier to buy milk that’s humanely made than computer components.

      3. No, the analogy is NOT sound UNLESS you actually had a choice: one computer made at X that does not carry with it all the externalities you discussed, and another that did (Y). If you choose Y, then you need to provide a justification for the decision to cause harm and death when that harm and death was avoidable.

  7. Milgram’s experiment, like his book of the same title was about obedience to authority, not so much about sadism. His point was that people would be obedient and do nasty things they wouldn’t do on their own, out of obedience. Sadism implies that they did those things for pleasure.

    1. But if the proposition is that “people are inherently good” than Milgram’s experiment is prima facie evidence to contradict that point; to wit, an inherently good person would not push the button, whereas someone who IS NOT good or bad “inherently” would to do so.

  8. Alex – If you see no point in “arguing with people” like me, there’s the door. But if you change your mind and are interested in a discussion I will leave you this note:
    I remain true to my belief that most people are good – or at least not sadists. You contend that my belief is incorrect. You are of course welcome to that view. I’m pretty sure I would have killed myself decades ago if I believed as you do. At any rate, I find precious few things in life that are as black and white as you seem to believe. For me, life is a constant balancing act, a continual exercise in perceiving and understanding shades of grey. I am always learning and evolving in my beliefs.
    As someone who loves animals and who independently made the decision to be a vegetarian at age 13, you’d think I’d be an easy sell on the vegan lifestyle. But honestly, the reason I think I (and others) do not go vegan is in part because some vegans have a tendency to bring the militant crazy into every discussion. This is not at all helpful to your cause, FYI.

    1. You could choose to stop consuming dairy products without having to label yourself vegan or align yourself with the extremist views.
      I’m not sure what I’d label my eating choices as I disagree with some underlying vegan beliefs and reasoning. So, I just don’t bother with a label.

      1. @YesBiscuit: If you feel comfortable with mere faith, despite the evidence, then good for you. But note, the absence of sadism DOES NOT prove that I am inherently good (or bad). Your conclusion is a non sequitur.

        So, if I understand you correctly, by “militant crazy” you mean ethically/morally consistent? Causing harm and death when confronted with the CHOICE not to cause harm and death is unethical/immoral. I would suggest that YOU agree with that proposition…just NOT consistently. I, however, do not see a reason for the inconsistency, thus, since consuming dairy is a choice not a need, I choose not to. That choice, in the final analysis, is merely consistent.

        The reason people do not go vegan has less to do with vegans who upset them than with their selfish habits. That is, I want to drink milk regardless of the unnecessary harm and death and I will because I can. That is not unlike humans who oppress other humans because of habit and the power to act on that habit.

  9. Alex, google “Manichean.”

    See, the thing about Milgram’s subjects — the ones who tremulously obeyed the authority figure, not the many who said NO — is that they are a good example of why we have to be careful using human subjects in psychological experiments.

    Because many of them had serious aftereffects from the experience. They found out something about themselves, and they DID NOT LIKE IT. And in some cases, that caused significant lifelong suffering to the unwitting volunteers. In other cases (as recounted in the Milgram chapter of Opening Skinner’s Box) this self-knowledge led to positive life transformations. A wake-up call. Because people are animals who are capable of all sorts of conduct, and also capable of all sorts of different conduct. We have a choice.

    But they are obviously all just horrible people, right? Obedience, sadism, same difference.

    I’m sure Alex has convinced himself that HE would be the brave refuser, the Milgram subject who stands up and denounces the authority figure, perhaps delivers a little speech about decency while stirring music swells in the background. Played by Tom Hanks in the remake, Henry Fonda in the classic version.

    Well, we can’t easily conduct that experiment (he’s on to us …), but the numbers say, probably not.

    1. @H. Houlahan: my point stands; the proposition is that people are inherently good, and I disagreed arguing that people are NOT inherently good or bad. Mailgram’s experiment certainly suggested just that: some people will do bad things under certain circumstances, just like people in the “food” industry, and others will not. In other words, there are no “bad apples” just different apples.

      Regardless of whether or not I feel bad after I turn Anne Frank and her family over to the Nazis is beside the relevant moral point because an “inherently good” person would not make that decision.

  10. Out of curiosity, Alex, are PETA supporters sadists too? Or are they simply obedient? ‘Cause, PETA kills almost every pet they take into their phony shelter, even though the vast majority are healthy and treatable, yet they still have supporters (some claiming to be vegan) who will argue ’til the cows come home that that’s OK. I wonder about that.

    1. @Valerie: your assumption is that I support PETA’s actions I suppose? I can’t offer a defense of something I do not support. But I would suggest that “PETA supporters” are not sadists, but again to reiterate, you do NOT have to enjoy suffering and death (i.e. be a sadist) to still NOT be inherently good. Try to stay on topic Valerie.

      1. I personally feel Alex is debating with relevant and on topic points. However, the replies are irrelevant and distract from the main points of the debate.
        Whether Alex is new, or supports PETA is redundant. Neither of those things are relevant to the topic at hand.
        Why don’t you reply with an appropriate rebuttal to his points if you disagree.
        The dairy industry is an inherently cruel industry. Repeatedly taking away a mother’s newborn so we can have her milk is cruel. Simple. The mother cow and calf mourn for each other. They kick, scream, cry and yearn to be together. That is nature.
        We deny them of their natural connection and put them through agonizing mental distress, so we can consume dairy products. Not just once, but over and over and over…

      2. Just to add, no one can be perfection. Even a reduction in milk products you consume is an improvement. I recognize it is not easy to always avoid milk products, especially when confronted with limited options. However, it is easy to choose not to consume dairy whenever an option is given.
        Try almond milk, it’s delicious.

      3. Separating calf and cow at birth is not necessarily cruel. I also have a little experience with this from my University’s dairy farm, and from several friends who did 4H in high school. Most of the time, there is no screaming or “mental anguish” as you describe. The cow and calf barely know the other exists. Other times, even when they call for each other the stress of separation is over quickly and cow and calf recover fine. Like administering veterinary care, trimming hooves, shearing sheep, etc, this is a routine, but necessary and brief, stressor in a farm animal’s life.

        There’s sometimes a fine line between empathy and anthropomorphism, and I think you’ve crossed it.

        Other aspects of large-scale agriculture considered “routine” do need improvement. But not that.

        Almonds aren’t without their price. They require large, monocultured groves of non-native trees, many pesticide applications per year, and the use of large scale commercial bee colonies. These bees are not treated well as they are trucked up and down the interstate, and they can spread disease to native pollinators and to smaller, local hobby and honey farmers.

        Personally, I prefer my neighbor’s goats’ milk to store bought stuff. She also separates the kids from mom at birth and bottle raises them to be pets or 4H animals. They’re some of the happiest animals you’ll ever meet.

      4. Cows, like human animals, have evolved a natural instinct to guide their offspring through infancy. When that instinct is denied, harm, in the form of psychological frustration, invariably occurs. For the anecdotes you’ve supplied, there are ten others countering your position. However, evolutionary biology is firm on this point: the attachment between mother and offspring is not deniable; your label of “anthropomorphism” is erroneous and clearly deployed here strategically.

        The assumption you are working on, in the final analysis, is that certain harms are “necessary” in a farmed animal’s life. But that is manifestly baseless because, and THIS is the crux of my argument, dairy, like flesh, is NOT a necessary product but a choice. And therefore, since this CHOICE causes harm and death, YOU need to justify it. AND NOTICE, nobody has even tried (because they cannot; they’d rather merely assume it)!

        P.S. nobody said almonds are “without their price”, that is a straw man. But as a one-to-one comparison, the harm and death in the dairy industry CANNOT be compared to almond production.

  11. Ah, these nested comments are driving me crazy. Maybe it’s a sign I should stop commenting…

    Alex: Almond milk was offered as an alternative to cow milk with the implication that it carried no harm in its production. Pointing out the flaw in that implication is not a straw man.

    I make the choice to drink my neighbor’s goat’s milk rather than almond milk (not that the two are entirely nutritionally equivalent, but let’s pretend they are for this discussion). Large-scale almond farming harms the environment and small-scale farmers as I just described. My neighbor’s goats are happy, healthy, and live on a small farm that has a small environmental impact and in fact has a section dedicated to native habitat restoration.

    This discussion started out as just about large-scale milk production, but now you’re making the argument that *any and all* animal production is worse than any equivalent plant-derived replacement product. That’s just plain wrong.

    1. Nowhere was it claimed that almond production carries “no harm”. You just made that up and argued against it (i.e., you straw manned the argument).

      The relevant implication was that almond milk production, in comparison to animal milk production, causes LESS harm and death. And, as I argued, that is prima facie true unless you can argue otherwise. (You see, I could point out happy little almond and soy farms too.)

      AND, because you, and everybody else here, STILL has not justified directly causing harm and death to cows or goats because you enjoy the taste of milk (right, in the face of all the alternatives out there), “any and all” exploitation of animals is WORSE than “any and all” similar exploitation of plants.

      As to the goats you exploit, since there is clearly harm involved in separating mothers and babies (you didn’t refute my point above), I would also ask about what happens to the babies, and what happens to the mothers when they are “spent”. Even a child, however, can see that because YOU DON’T NEED the milk, you just like it, “any and all” harm and death that occurs in the production of the milk is BY DEFINITION unnecessary and thus requires a justification.

  12. Alex Melonas Says:

    June 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    And therefore, since this CHOICE causes harm and death, YOU need to justify it. AND NOTICE, nobody has even tried (because they cannot; they’d rather merely assume it)!

    See Alex, this is what I’m talking about WRT veganism. Your OPINION is that anyone who chooses to consume dairy must justify it. And when no one applies to you for approval, you reason that it’s because it can not be justified.
    I disagree with your opinion. I don’t feel the need to justify my choice to consume dairy to you. You can interpret that as you please but it will simply be your interpretation – not the gospel truth.

    1. No, my “opinion”, which I assume is yours as well, is that causing harm and death is bad. And therefore, it is not my opinion that if you choose to drink milk qua drink milk you need to justify, but that you need to justify causing the harm and death inherent in the production of milk BECAUSE you think harm and death are bad. Or are you okay with causing harm and death?

      THIS is merely ethical/moral consistency, and THIS is what you label “militant extremism”. It is logical, in other words, NOT to arbitrarily say “I don’t have to worry about THIS harm and death (for some reason?) but this harm and death I will”…and that is precisely what YOU are doing here: arbitrarily distinguishing between different harms and different deaths without justifying it. I am saying you need to justify it JUST to be consistent, logical, ethical/moral?

  13. Alex – I get the impression that if you are being honest, you would admit that there is absolutely no reason or argument anyone could offer you that would “justify” their consumption of dairy. Your mind is made up with no room for any additional consideration. And as I said, I don’t feel obligated to justify my choice to consume dairy to you.

    But in the interest of discussion, and as a sort of end thought to this thread (on my part), I will explain one of the reasons I haven’t gone vegan: fear. I fear developing a holier-than-thou attitude. I fear becoming closed minded and failing to show respect for the personal choices made by others. I fear feeling compelled to stand in judgment of almost everyone I know and their food choices. I fear coming across to people as you have come across to me here.

    As things stand, I like myself and I like most other people – with all of our strengths and failings. I don’t necessarily agree with everyone else’s life choices but I believe most people in the world are basically good hearted. I feel open to the idea of veganism, even though it’s not what I choose right now. It’s a very liberating feeling for me – to feel open to learning, open to considering the ideas of others and open to change.

    I appreciate your passion for what you believe is the right choice for you. My problem with it is that you seem to feel that it *must* be the right choice for everyone, without exception. To my way of thinking, that is a form of hate.

    Please feel welcome to take the last word (or words). I’m not cutting off the discussion by any means. I merely feel that I’ve said as much as I’d like to contribute on the subject for the time being. Anyone else who wants to can feel free to keep talking. I’ll be following along but probably not adding anything.

    1. Offer me an argument that justifies causing harm and death to cows because you enjoy the taste of dairy. Just try! Your sophism aside, the moral/ethical question is one of competing interests: the cows interest in not being harmed and killed and your interest in consuming dairy products. Clearly, the former trumps.

      “Fear”? That is possibly the most absurd thing I’ve heard. Do you “fear” feeling “holier-than-thou” when you stand in judgment of racists and sexists? Are you not “close minded” on those topics? Are you concerned that you won’t keep growing and maturing if you close-the-door, morally speaking, on the question of child or elderly abuse? Of course not. That is a ridiculous non-answer.

      It is called moral/ethical CONSISTENCY, and you have not even begun to show me where I am wrong. Veganism, it would seem, is on FAR stronger intellectual and moral/ethical ground than the alternatives.

      Be intellectually and morally honest: you “fear” giving up something you want, you desire, to keep having. And perhaps you “fear” the judgment of all those people who for one reason or another remain inconsistent and oftentimes just plain ignorant.

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